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Google Tag Manager: An Easy Step-By-Step Guide

May 16, 2016 0 Comments

What is Google Tag Manager?

The Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a tool made for marketers to efficiently deploy and manage various marketing and analytics tags on a website or mobile app.

Does Google Tag Manager replace my Google Analytics?

No, it doesn't. GTM actually works great in conjunction with Google Analytics (GA) by giving it better, more specific data.

Why Should I Use Google Tag Manager?

There are several benefits to using GTM:

  • Simplicity: The GTM "container code" is a single code placed on every page of your website. It literally acts as a container, storing and deploying several marketing and analytics tags so that marketers can create and manage any tag with just a few clicks.
  • Speed: GTM eliminates the need to tamper with your website's code which helps testing and deploying tags happen in a matter of minutes.
  • Customization: GTM comes with a wide array of built-in tags and functions which means you can customize advanced tracking quickly and easily.

Installing Google Tag Manager

Follow the steps below to install GTM:

Step 1: Head over to the GTM Website and log in with your Google username and password.

Step 2: If you're new to GTM, you'll automatically be prompted to create an account.

Note: You can create multiple GTM accounts within a single Google account, but most businesses tend to maintain only one.

Step 3: Enter your GTM account name (your company's name), select the checkbox "Share data anonymously with Google and others" (if you'd like to enable benchmarking), and then click "Continue."

Step 4: Enter the name of your container (your website's name), select where you intend to use your container (I've chosen to use mine on a website), and then click "create."

Step 5: Accept the Terms of Service. Congrats--you've created a new GTM account and container!

Step 6: This is your GTM container tag.
On a typical site, this step may require some minor technical help. Copy and paste the GTM code, aka the container tag, onto every page of your website. Place it immediately after the opening <body> tag.

GearLaunch Partners: simply open "Store Settings" from your dashboards, then scroll down to the "Default pixels" section where you can enter your new GTM container tag.
Click "OK" once you've copied and pasted the code, and you'll be shown your GTM dashboard.

Introduction to GTM Tags and Triggers

There are two key components to GTM: "tags" and "triggers."

  • Tags tell GTM what you want it to do. For example, “send a Page View to Google Analytics.”
  • Triggers tell GTM when you want a tag fired. For example, “anytime someone visits a page.”

Following the example, let's have GTM report a Page View to GA every time someone visits our new site,

Step 1: From the GTM dashboard, click "Tags" from the left hand menu, and then click "New".

Step 2: Choose the product you'd like to create a tag for. GA is one of many products deeply integrated with GTM--simply click to select.

Step 3: You have the option to choose between "Universal Analytics" or "Classic Google Analytics." Universal Analytics (UA) is the new Google Analytics operating standard. In this instance, we’ll choose "Universal Analytics," which is also the default selection. Click "Continue."

Step 4: After clicking “Continue,” you’ll need to tell GTM where to send the Page View information using your Google Analytics tracking ID (aka UA ID). For this example, we'll use "UA-11111111-1." If you need help finding your actual UA ID, go here.

GTM defaults to Page Views as the Track Type, but it also offers tracking for Events, Transactions, Social, Timing, Decorate Links, Decorate Forms, and their respective parameters.

Step 5: Now it's time to define the trigger so that GTM knows when to fire our tag.

We want to fire our tag whenever someone visits a page, so select “All Pages” from the list of built-in triggers. Then, click "Create."

Step 6: GTM will prompt you to name your tag. Because tags are organized in alphabetical order, it's good practice to group your tags so you can easily find them later. Google Analytics tags, for example, can all be grouped with "GA - ."

Step 7: We're almost done! GTM does not immediately publish your tags once you click "Save." Instead, you can confirm the details of your tag as well as view the number of unpublished changes waiting to go live (located in the upper right corner).

When you're ready, click the "Publish" button to push your tag live.

Avoid duplicating data: If you use GTM to control your Google Analytics (recommended), make sure to remove all existing Google Analytics tracking codes from your website .

Introduction to GTM Variables

  • Variables improve efficiency by storing values that tags, triggers, and other variables can quickly retrieve. For example, "Google Analytics UA ID = UA-11111111-1." Now, instead of manually locating and plugging in your UA ID every time, you simply enter the appropriate variable.

Recall we had to follow these steps in order to create our "GA - Page View" tag.
This is only one of many Google Analytics tags you'll inevitably set up. To avoid the same cumbersome steps every time, you can create a "UA Tracking ID" variable.

Step 1: Head over to and log in. Find and select "Variables" listed on the left side-menu.

Step 2: Next, scroll to the bottom of the page to the “User-Defined Variables” section and click “New.”

Step 3: Select the type of variable you want to create. Since we want our variable to define the same value every time (our UA ID), we’ll select “Constant."

Step 4: Assign a value to your variable. In this case, it's your UA ID. Then click "Create Variable"

Step 5: Next, name and save your new variable.

Step 6: Now that you’ve created your first variable, let's test it in the "GA - Page View" tag since it uses this variable's information.

Head back to the "Tags" tab and open the “GA – Page view” tag.

Scroll down to the field where you entered "UA-11111111-1" and delete it. Then, click the variable icon to reveal a list of variables you can use. Click the variable you'd just create.

Step 7: Save your changes and click "Publish."

Note: Once you make changes to a variable in the "Variables" tab, the changes will be reflected in all tags, triggers, and other variables that use it.

How do I make GTM work for me?

Our tip is to always start with an idea of what you want to measure. There is a learning curve to GTM, but you can better optimize your efforts in return.

Start small. For ideas, here are just 2 of many ways GTM can work for you:

  • Because GTM gives you the ability to track almost any event action, you can use those events as custom re-targeting audiences.
  • If you cast a wide advertising net, tracking specific conversions can become difficult. With GTM, you can configure tags and rules to make sure you track only the goals you want to track for each advertising platform.

Remember, if something doesn't make sense, we're here to help.

Ngan Ton
San Francisco, CA Website
Tech enthusiast, cat lover, bookworm, and Content Marketing Manager at GearLaunch